BONNYVILLE – The Bonnyville Jr. A Pontiacs are hoping their 6-4 loss against the Spruce Grove Saints isn’t representative of the remaining games in their regular season.
Centre Chayce Schmidt said they have to do better following Wednesday's home game.
“We started out mediocre, and against a good team like that you can’t play mediocre,” he continued. “We’re a team where you’ve got to play 95 per cent each night, and we just didn’t come out.”
Defenceman Cayden Schmyr agreed the Pontiacs just weren’t ready when they faced off against the Saints, who are sitting second in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) north division standings, two spots ahead of Bonnyville.
“We’ve got to find it within ourselves, find that fire, click right from the start and throughout the whole game,” he exclaimed.
The first point of the evening went to the Saints when they found the back of Bonnyville’s net just over six minutes into the frame.
After Spruce Grove took a penalty for having too many players on the ice, Pontiac Matthew McKim put the home team on the board to tie it up 1-1.
The Saints were quick to take the lead with back-to-back goals to start the second.
Pontiac Kash Rasmussen fired back with one of his own to keep Bonnyville’s chances alive, but the visiting team wasn't letting up. Two powerplay goals, followed by a third at even strength, put Spruce Grove ahead 6-2 by the end of the period.
After a pep talk during second intermission, the home team came out of the locker room determined to leave it all on the ice.
Left wing Ethan Sundar started the scoring off for Bonnyville. Tensions ran high as both teams racked up a number of penalties throughout the remainder of the frame.
In the final minute of play, a powerplay goal from Pontiac centre Lucas Thorne brought the final score to 6-4, with the Saints going home with the win.
With only four games left in their regular season, head coach Rick Swan stressed how important the remaining matchups are.
“If our guys don’t change it now, we’re not going to have a chance once playoffs start. I know that from experience, and that’s something we’ve been trying to not only dial in for them, but every year we have a number of guys who will be done their Jr. A hockey careers,” he explained. “We’ve got three guys that have been absolute warriors for us, and the only thing that they care about at the end of the day, and we know that not everyone is going to win a championship, but it’s the friendships and effort that the guys around them pull together so they can look the 20-year-olds in the eyes and say ‘I gave everything for you’ and for the 20-year-olds to reflect back and say ‘thank you for giving everything that you have.’”
Bonnyville is on the road for their next two games when they face-off against the Saints again on Feb. 16, and the Drayton Valley Thunder on Feb. 17. Their next home game is Feb. 22 against Grande Prairie Storm. Puck drop is 7 p.m.